15 May 2020

“None of us know what will happen. Don’t spend time worrying about it. Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do that every day. That’s it.”

This Week

Last night I watched Prince and the Revolution: Live on YouTube. The official Prince account is streaming it every evening for three nights to raise funds for COVID-19 response. If we can’t gather together in person, it’s pleasant to gather online at a particular time, for a particular event, if only in a rather loose, virtual sort of way. It made me miss real concerts, and not just because the last two months of lockdown. My regular concert-going days are many years behind me. But maybe I didn’t appreciate them as much as I should have. Maybe I should have taken more opportunities in recent years to go to that show, eat at that restaurant, take that trip. Have that experience out in the world among other people. It has been so easy to assume I could do these things that, as I grew older, I often didn’t bother to do them at all. If there are individual lessons to be gained from this time, I suppose one of them is to not take experiences out in the world, among other people, for granted.

In other news, I was on the No Manifestos podcast this past week, talking with host Stuart Sierra about tech education, documentation and various things I do in my career. It was a fun conversation. Please share and enjoy.

As usual, I hope you are all getting along all right. If not, try watching Prince. It might do the trick.


Ahmaud Arbery should be alive.

Too black, too queer, too holy: why Little Richard never truly got his dues.

“Instead of an all-or-nothing approach to risk prevention, Americans need a manual on how to have a life in a pandemic.” Quarantine fatigue is real.

One foot in front of the other: how a daily walk helps us cope.

Envisioning a revitalized Federal Writers’ Project.

“Perhaps the biggest lesson that indigenous spiritual leaders hope people will take from the pandemic is that it’s a time to be still, to reflect, and to listen to elders. Both Joseph and Wilson likened this period of stay-at-home orders to a long winter, when people would traditionally stay inside and listen to stories. According to Joseph, it’s like Earth is saying ‘not today, humans, you need some more reflection.’” Native American spiritual leaders say this is a time to recalibrate for a better future.

MS: I failed this morning. I failed yesterday morning, for sure. I woke up and my first thoughts were really dark and horrible.

LA: But so are mine. My first thoughts every day are very, very dark.

MS: Are you going to keep making the giant paintings?

LA: Yeah, I’m going out there tomorrow morning. They’re so bad.

MS: Keep working.

Laurie Anderson in conversation with Michael Stipe.

“In lockdown, we’re all Calvin.” Calvin and Hobbes and quarantine: Bill Watterson didn’t predict the current world, but he prepared us for it.


  • In 1991, I was ten years old and already a verified nerd, so I remember being sincerely excited about the Biosphere 2 project. Later, I came to understand that the experiment was considered at best a failure and at worst a scam, but I never really learned why. Enter Spaceship Earth (Hulu), a well-put-together documentary that provides enough context on the whole endeavor to make sense how it both came about and how it fell apart. Personal anecdote! I grew up with extended family in Tuscon, so on one vacation I went to see Biosphere 2 in the midst of the experiment. I don’t remember much except that it was exorbitantly expensive to purchase a tour and all you could do was try to look through the windows, which were covered in condensation and therefore practically opaque. It’s not a great anecdote, admittedly, but it’s all I got.

  • Hulu sometimes has some classic film gems hidden in its library. Most recently I discovered there Lady in a Cage, a 60s thriller starring Olivia de Havilland that goes to some bizarre and sketchy places but is worth the strange ride. Bonuses: a freewheeling Ann Southern and baby James Caan.

  • So the What We Do in the Shadows television series just keeps getting better. Season 2 is a delight.

  • I mean, clearly:

Go as slowly as you need to. It’s totally fine.




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This week’s quote is from Laurie Anderson.